Everyone arrived before 11:30 am. Upon arrival the missionaries could visit in the courtyard or watch the Christmas Devotional in the Chapel. A large committee of missionaries were busy putting the finishing touches on everything.
At noon, we took several Mission pictures. Then we sat down to eat. Diane's special bean, lettuce, cabbage, corn, cucumber and chicken salad with barbecue ranch salad dressing. Two media luna croissants and two Christmas cookies each. During lunch a new Mission video was shown that included the newer missionaries.
After lunch we had a White Elephant exchange. Each table of 8 was given a bag of presents the missionaries brought (value under 10 pesos argentinos) and made the exchange. Some of the items that were in the confiscation category were a dart gun, a water pistol, a Playboy key ring and two sling shots.
Elder Lastres called me this morning feeling a little guilty because his goldfish did not last the night! I told him to move forward with his life!
Next, under a few chairs were color coded cards. Those with the cards came up front and were handed a bell. They were then led in a ringing rendition of Jingle Bells, several times while the rest laughed, sang and/or applauded.
Two musical acts performed. Elders Taylor and Denniston sang a duet and then the Office Elders and Assistants sang and danced accompanied on the key board by Diane (yes, she does everything but sell popcorn during halftime).
We then went into the chapel and listened to some (more) incredibly talented missionaries play the piano, flute, violin and sing. We sang congregational Christmas songs. My counselor Ruben Karra read the nativity story in Luke 2 and then we saw the Reflections of Christ video by Mark Mabry. We finished up with Diane and I sharing some thoughts about being missionaries at Christmas time. No pictures of this part because we were in the chapel.
We then asked each missionary to exit through the front door where Diane and I shook their hand, gave them an abrazo or with the Sisters, Diane gave them a beso on each cheek as is the custom. We also handed each missionary a Christmas bag. The bags were handmade by Graciela. They contained a Mission calendar we put together with pictures of all the missionaries, a laminated card with the Family Proclamation on one side and The Living Christ on the other, a Snickers Bar, Peanut M&Ms, 2 caramelos and a nice new pair of socks..men's and women's. To top it off, a parent donated money and asked to not be named, with the stipulation that it be used to give the Hermanas something special. So I figured out how much it would cost for each Hermana to splurge on some great ice cream, put that amount in an envelope and handed it to each companionship of Hermanas. It was awesome and it made them feel extra special.
After that the missionaries mixed and mingled, took pictures laughed, cried and had a great visit until it was time to go. I was amazed at how smoothly it all went and how it offered something for everyone and just enough fun and focus to keep the Christmas spirit!
The best and only panic moment of the day was when the bakery showed up at 10:00 am with the order of 49 Media Luna croissants. The only problem was we ordered 49 DOZEN Media Lunas!!!!! Fortunately the bakery was 2 hours early, loves us and knows how to get things done...they went back and baked all of the rest of the Media Luna's and would take them out of their oven and drive them over on the trays piping hot. The missionaries had no clue, all they knew is that the Media Lunas were fresh and oven hot!!!
It took months of planning, a few thousand cubic yards of natural gas, the ultimate sacrifice of a couple hundred chickens and all of the organizational skills of the Assistants and Office Elders but it was worth it to see the Missionaries together and happy. I am tempted to put crime scene tape around our kitchen so that Diane will stay out...for the past month it is just about the only place where I saw her and could sneak in a few words before I was in the way. As our son Curtis observed, "Cooking is Mom's language of love"! She does pretty great with Spanish, too, these days! There was a whole lot of love at the Mission Christmas Activity....so, I guess New Year's Day is next week......
OUTTAKES....My favorite part!!!
I used the microphone as mistletoe and gave Diane a kiss to a huge applause!
I told the missionaries that is what it sounded like in my head everytime I ,issued Diane!!
Then I made my Presidency kiss their wives, too! The crowd went wild!!!
¡Feliz Navidad! One worth remembering....